A team of engineers at The University of Texas (UT) at Austin have designed an optical device that, they say, may offer a fast, comprehensive, noninvasive, and lower-cost solution to detect melanoma and other skin cancer lesions, thereby reducing unnecessary biopsies. Their device is a probe that uses light in three unique ways to measure the properties of skin tissue. The 3-in-1 device is being tested in clinical trials.

The probe is about the size of a pen, and the spectroscopic and computer equipment that supports it fits onto a portable utility cart that can be wheeled between rooms. Each reading takes less than five seconds to perform.

While previous research tried combining spectroscopic techniques to aid in skin cancer detection, UT team is the first to put three techniques in a single probe, combining Raman spectroscopy, diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, and laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy to create a more complete picture of a skin lesion.